Why Did Lauryn Hill Stop Making Music? She Disappeared at the Height of Her Fame

After her debut record came out, Lauryn Hill had all the makings of becoming the next big sensation — but then she disappeared.

Sarah Kester - Author

May 23 2024, Published 6:46 p.m. ET

For a moment there, Lauryn Hill had the world at her feet. The singer, rapper, and actress took the music world by storm with her 1998 debut album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The album topped Apple Music's top 10 albums of all time list in 2024.

Back when her record came out, the eight-time Grammy winner had all the makings of becoming the next big sensation — but then she disappeared. She hasn’t released a full studio album since, and her reputation as a performer has become lackluster at best.

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So, what happened to this once budding star? And why did Lauryn Hill retire from music? Here's what we know.

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Lauryn Hill’s career began in the late 1990s.

Lauryn first broke into the music industry when she formed a music trio with cousins Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean.

They called themselves the Fugees. Around this time, Lauryn was getting into acting and famously appeared in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and As the World Turns.

After Lauryn took time off from music to study at Columbia University, the Fugees released their debut album, “Blunted on Reality.”

However, the album was destroyed by critics. They succeeded with their next album, “The Score,” featuring iconic hits like “Killing Me Softy.” But this wave of success didn’t last long, as the trio split in 1997.

A year later, Lauryn was shot to fame when she released her 1998 solo debut album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

The album was an instant classic, going on to win five Grammys.

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To this day, artists such as Adele and Drake still attribute that album to influencing their music.

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Why did Lauryn Hill retire from music?

There have been many theories as to why Lauryn turned off the mic. One theory is that the pressure of fame got to her. Reaching the heights of fame that she did was a lot to handle, especially when she was a new mother.

She also began to trust people less after she was hit with a lawsuit by four musicians — called New Ark — who helped her create her debut album. The lawsuit was later settled for $5 million.

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Lauryn expressed her disillusion with the industry and the "public illusion" around her during her MTV Unplugged performance in 2002, telling the audience (per the New York Post), "I'm just retired from the fantasy part," adding: "I'm glad that I don't have to slave anymore."

She also went through another legal battle when she spent time in prison for tax evasion in 2013.

In a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone, the singer revealed why she has never released another full studio album.

"The wild thing is no one from my label [Columbia Records] has ever called me and asked how can we help you make another album, ever ... ever," she said. "Did I say ever? Ever!"

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She also shared that the pressure to live up to the success of “Miseducation” weighed heavily on her shoulders.

"After the Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations and saboteurs everywhere," she said. "People had included me in their own narratives of their successes as it pertained to my album, and if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy."

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It certainly didn’t help that her 2002 MTV Unplugged live album received mixed reactions.

When she would perform, which was sporadic, the singer was often criticized for being late and putting on lackluster performances.

But the singer may be on track to return to the industry she left behind. In 2021, she reunited with the Fugees for a concert with Global Citizen Live (although they were three and a half hours late to the show…). Some things never change.

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